Worry that the Smart Speaker is Spying on You?

Getting a smart speaker with a built-in voice-activated assistant, such as Amazon Echo or Google Home, seem to make users’ home more convenient as they are able to complete an increasing number of tasks. However, they surely raised a lot of privacy concerns and security issues.

Is my smart speaker constantly spying on me? Does it put my privacy at risk? The short answer is definitely a yes. In fact, the device is actively listening to everything you say, waiting for command words, like “Alexa” and “Ok! Google”.  As a result, it opens up the possibility of your information being hacked and misused.

What is the risk?

As with many other “smart home” devices, when you take advantage of them, you have to get well-prepared to bear the risk. For example, if you buy a baby monitor with default password known well by hackers. Countless people ignore the instructions to change the passwords and simply leave the default settings, potentially letting malicious people to have access to their homes.

This is dangerous in following ways: as hackers are able to use the default passwords to link with your smart devices, your recorded conversation and activities might be abused by them. Moreover, hackers can even take over the control of your home, allowing criminals to know when is safe to burglarize your house.

In general, your smart speaker only keeps track of what you say after you activate it with the key words. Users can log into Amazon and see the recordings and rename the hot words.

Find all Alexa recordings:

  1. Go to Amazon Devices
  2. Select your Echo
  3. Select Manage Recordings
  4. (Delete all of your recordings)

Change Alexa’s name:

  1. Go to alexa.amazon.com
  2. Select Settings
  3. Select a device if you have more than one.
  4. Click Wake Word
  5. Click to open the drop-down menu and select either Amazon or Echo
  6. Save your changes
  7. (Require a speakable confirmation code before authorizing purchases)

*At present, Google Home and Apple HomePod do not allow users to change the “hot word.”

What is the smart speaker protection?

  • Limit accounts and services you connect to a smart speaker

  • Turn off voice activation when you need the utmost privacy

When you are not using your virtual assistant, plug its ears. Both the Amazon Echo and Google Home have a microphone button that you can toggle on and off. It is possible for your to instruct Google Home to stop listening by asking “OK Google, turn off the microphone.”

Are muted microphones still listening to me? It is unlikely that this is the case, but since the microphones are controlled by software, there may be some unknown spying capabilities inside the virtual assistants. Unplug the power cord if you’re still worried.

  • Use a secure wireless network with a secure password

Use a strong password that contains upper and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters. Make sure it’s unique to that device and not used on any other online accounts.

  • Use two-factor authentication to prevent others from logging in

Two-factor authentication, known as 2FA, is an extra layer of security that requires not only a password and username but also something that only that user has on them. Such as a piece of information only they should know or have immediately to hand.

Using a 2FA process can help to lower the number of cases of identity theft because the criminal would need more than just the users name and password details.

  • Put attention on your home network security

Make sure you cover security for all IoT devices in your house, which can alert you when some vulnerable activities are harming your smart system, and blocking malicious exploitation attempts. This basic solution can even protect you outside your home, to your phones.

Trend Micro Home Network Security provides protection against cyber-attacks for every internet-connected device in your home – including game consoles, smart TVs, and appliances. Any product that is connected to the Internet now has the potential to be hacked; leading to data and identity theft, financial loss, and privacy invasion.